Hail on the chief
As Congress and the President push for global warming legislation by the Fourth of July, they cannot forget that good environmental policy should start with improving our country’s conservation programs, not just tearing down smokestacks. Congress told new Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell her budget – a 1.6 percent cut from estimated spending for the current year, and down nearly 4 percent from 2006 – was unworkable this week, and while we should all be thankful, there is little reason for us to believe true commitment from Congress exists. At President Bush’s plan’s best, a small number of forested areas break even. Yet in this week’s review, Congress was not bursting with positive alternatives, only fiery rhetoric. Without government funding increases, our national forests fall farther down the death spiral, otherwise known as profit-based environmental management. It’s already occurring at Green Mountain Reservoir, where pay-to-play fees have increased for users, but provided little revenue. In turn, the Forest Service has turned to private industry. To the public, it’s the worst of both worlds.Based on the past “do-nothing” Congresses, we’ll believe in its strong words when we see them in action. And first off, we’d love to see a well-drafted alternative that shows long-term financial commitment to conserving our public lands, not just knee-jerk legislation to “An Inconvenient Truth.”
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